Jorhat: Black rice considered to be a superfood by US scientists, black rice has been modified at the Titabar Agricultural Rice Research Station, Jorhat, Assam to make it softer and easier to cook even while retaining its essential nutrient value. The Titabar RARS which mainly deals with rice research, under Assam Agricultural University, has also successfully increased the yield in 15 low-yielding black rice varieties which is likely to reach farmers in a year or two.
Black rice (Oryza sativa L. indica) varieties are rice varieties with puple coloured pericarp. Black rice has high anthocyanin content located in the pericarp layers, which gives it a dark purple colour. It also has high content of antioxidant. Black rice has been used in various traditional medicines and recently many researchers have several health benefits.
Dr Sanjay Kumar Chetia, principal scientist at the research station said that black rice, jam-packed with protein, flavonoid phytonutrients and also a rich source of antioxidants, had still not become a daily dietary intake by the population as it had to be soaked for hours before cooking and even after being cooked had a hardness at the core.
The traditional black rice has lower amylose content (10-15%) and hence, turns sticky when cooked. This is the only reason why consumers do not prefer black rice for normal consumption.
"Therefore, at Assam Agricultural University an attempt was made to produce black rice varieties with an amylose content of around 20%, it was successfully achieved and the improved lines were produced while keeping all other qualities intact," he said.
Dr Chetia said that in Asian countries, black rice is often consumed after mixing it with white rice to enhance its flavour, colour and nutritional value.
It also has high protein, total essential amino acids, vitamin B1 and minerals –Fe and Zn.
He further said that flavour was of primary importance in speciality of rice and the superior flavour increased consumer's satisfaction.